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Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant Hardcover – July 19, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A mishmash of foodie writers dispute, humorously or more self-seriously, the pros and cons of cooking and dining alone. While eating by oneself can be the busy worker's greatest pleasure, as Colin Harrison notes of his solitary Manhattan lunches during a work day ("Out to Lunch"), and mother Holly Hughes ("Luxury") agrees is a secret but too rare pleasure, other writers see it as depressing or shameful. In "The Lonely Palate," Laura Calder quotes Epicurus as saying, "we should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink"—then offers a recipe for Kippers Mash. Eating is an act of love, thus prompting Jonathan Ames ("Poisonous Eggs") to dine out and flirt with the waitress. "Table for One" by Erin Ergenbright records how the single diner is perceived uneasily by the wait staff. And M.F.K. Fisher relishes solitary dining ("A Is for Dining Alone") as a way to escape "the curious disbelieving impertinence of the people in restaurants." The collection is named after an essay by Laurie Colwin, who found a dozen different ways to cook eggplant on her two-burner hot plate while living alone in a tiny Greenwich Village flat. (July)
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From Booklist

In this celebration of the meal for one, Ferrari-Adler connects short essays from a diverse set of writers recounting solitary suppers and reflecting on the singular rewards and blissful consolation of indulging no one else's hungers but one's own. Marcella Hazan affirms this truth, noting that the single diner tends to disdain nutrition for comfort and familiarity, but without sinking into childhood formulations. Many of these writers address the specific challenges of cooking in the severely limited conditions presented by tiny Manhattan apartments. Laura Dave contends that in such cramped circumstances the conscientious cook learns never to prepare anything that may leave a lingering odor. Ann Patchett seems ultimately to reject the notion of dining alone, contending that feeding others is one of the most basic means of making human connections. In the few recipes recorded here, cheese figures prominently, from fine Gruyere through pedestrian cottage cheese. Knoblauch, Mark

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (July 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489471
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant is a tribute not only to food, but to the act of eating and preparing it, the savoring of a specific meal, or simply the privacy to enjoy it. With a range of writers, some known for food writing (M.F.K. Fisher, Marcella Hazan, Amanda Hesser) and fiction writers (Jami Attenberg, Dan Chaon, Ann Patchett) covering basic to fancier dishes, it's got something for everyone, even the non-foodies. For some of the authors, eating alone can be, well, lonely, and I'm glad this perspective was included, while for others, such as Holly Hughes in "Luxury," because of the constant demands of her kids ("Yuck, Mom, why is the rice so slimy?" "Mom, this has boogers in it."), eating alone is a treasured treat. She has meals she only eats alone, like liver, because she "couldn't bear it if" her kids spit it out.

The authors who tackle a specific food do so with an urgency bordering on lust, and their unusual choices (most contributors aren't choosing traditional comfort foods here like macaroni and cheese or pizza, or, okay, maybe those are just mine) may make you reconsider certain foods. Haruki Murakami eats spaghetti for a year, "as if cooking spaghetti were an act of revenge," and his preference for eating it alone is balanced with the intrusion of a phone call that tears him away from his favorite meal. Phoebe Nobles eats asparagus every day for two months in her quest to become an "asparagus superhero." Erin Ergenbright shares a tale from the other side of the spectrum, as an observer of a solo female diner (aka "NGL," No Garlic Lady") at the Portland restaurant where she waits tables, clarklewis.
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Format: Hardcover
I love reading essays about food, especially when they are authored by talented writers like Laurie Colwin, M.F.K. Fisher, Ann Patchett and Nora Ephron. So when I opened this book and discovered that the first chapter was a story by Laurie Colwin my curiosity was immediately piqued. "For eight years I lived in a one bedroom apartment a little larger than the Columbia Encyclopedia," Colwin begins, "... I had enough space for a twin-sized bed, a very small night table, and a desk... Instead of a kitchen, this minute apartment featured a metal counter... on top of which was what I called the stove but which was only two electric burners - in short, a hot plate." With the scene set Colwin then proceeds to share with her readers some of the meals she cooked for herself, and others, in her tiny abode. One of her favorite things to cook when dining alone was eggplant, and hence it is from this portion of the story that Colwin's essay, and this book, get their title: "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant."

Indeed, eating alone, whether at a restaurant or at home, is the theme of this book, in which the author attempts to answer the question: how do we feed ourselves when we're alone, when there are no one else's needs to take into consideration? Each writer interprets this question in their own way, with some lauding the versatility of beans and others reminiscing about spaghetti. Amanda Hesser shares her thoughts on "single cuisine," by which she means the simple, yet satisfying, meals she and her friends enjoy during their solitary nights at home: truffled egg toast, single girl salmon, and an enticing pasta dish made with garlic, olive oil, fried eggs, pepper and freshly grated cheese.
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Format: Hardcover
What do you cook for yourself when you are cooking and eating alone? This anthology is full of musings, great ideas, and confessions from a variety of writers who spill the beans on their solitary dining habits. It's definitely not a cookbook though there are some recipes included in the essays. Truffled Egg Toast and Single Girl Salmon; Salsa Rosa for One and White-on-White Lunch for When No One Is Looking (egg noodles and cottage cheese); Kippers Mash. See what I mean? Not a cookbook. But if you are interested in the diversity of U.S. attitudes toward cooking and eating, you will find the twenty-six essays in this book entertaining.

Phoebe Nobles, for example, eats fresh asparagus every day of its short season in Michigan, inspired by a bronze Spargelfrau statue in "some famous little asparagus town in Germany." Steamed, roasted, grilled, it's the perfect finger food. Late in the season when you are "flagging," break it into pieces and hide it inside things. In a particularly personal section of this essay, Ms. Nobles advises us that she enjoys the fresh vegetable aroma of the urine of asparagus eaters. Having never seen this fact mentioned in my five decades as a reader, I was surprised to find it referenced in two books within a month (this one, and Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult).

The ever-entertaining Steve Almond cheated a bit on the brief. Pleading Jewishness, he claims to be bound by Mosaic law to feed anyone who comes to call, whether they want to eat or not. He claims that cooking for others is a "tremendous rush" and that writers, forced to work alone, are denied that pleasure of ulteriority in their work.
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